GREENSBURG — Greensburg Community High School agriculture teacher Greg Schneider has always gone above and beyond.
Late last year, Schneider received the Honorary American FFA Degree.
According to the National FFA, individuals who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA are eligible for the Honorary American FFA Degree. Additionally, teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success are eligible. Nominations are first submitted to the individual’s state FFA association for approval.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agriculture education to more than 700,000 student members belonging to more than 8,600 FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Schneider received the award in November 2019 National FFA Convention and Expo during an onstage ceremony in Indianapolis.
Recipients of the degree received a plaque and medal, as well as having their names permanently record, according to the National FFA Organization.
According to Schneider, the Indiana State FFA Association nominated him and asked for his assistance in filling out the application.
He indicated he wasn’t necessarily expecting the recognition.
“To be honest, it was a surprise,” Schneider said. “When I began my journey as a teacher in 1991, I never would have guessed that someday I would be walking across the stage at the National FFA Convention to receive an Honorary American FFA Degree. It was definitely surreal. It is an honor and an experience I will always cherish and never forget.”
GCHS Principal Grant Peters and Assistant Principal Sonja Kolkmeier offered a joint statement on Schneider’s recognition back when he received the award, lauding the teacher for all he has brought to the school.
“Mr. Schneider has worked at GCHS since 2015,” their joint statement said. “Not only has the agriculture program at Greensburg Community High School grown drastically under the leadership of Mr. Schneider, but he has sown seeds to grow students to be the leaders who impact not only with our community, but the state and national level. Earlier this school year, students went to the Statehouse as a request of Dr. Jennifer McCormick to set up the state superintendent’s personal tower garden. Each week, Mr. Schneider provides students with speakers that are experts in their field and provides them field trips with hands-on learning experiences.”
Schneider mentioned he didn’t grow up on a farm. Essentially, he learned through classes and through hard work.
“As a matter of fact, I did not take my first agriculture class until I was a senior in high school,” Schneider said. “Through my education, experiences and owning a diversified livestock farm, I ‘speak ag” fluently now, but my native language will always be that of the non-farm sector.”
As he evolved as an educator, two of his greatest passions have become production agriculture and agricultural literacy.
“Greensburg is the perfect place for me to be to pursue these passions,” Schneider said.
Schneider expects this to positively impact his career.
“In education, there is a fine line between being in a groove and being in a rut,” Schneider said. “I always strive to never teach the same year twice. Honorary American FFA Degree recipients are selected by a review committee of agricultural educators and agriculture professionals. It’s definitely affirming to receive this level of recognition from your peers.”
Schneider also said he hopes this can serve as an inspiration for students.
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,’” Schneider said. “Students are at the core of everything that happens in agricultural education – whether that be in the classroom, with FFA activities or through project-based/service-based learning. Agriculture students work hard every day to make a positive difference in their community. I like to think that all of my students over the past 29 years share in this recognition.”
The next item on Schneider’s list of goals will assist students in their agricultural careers.
“Next up is launching the new Agriculture Learning Center,” Schneider said. “This project has always been a professional goal. My interest in agriculture started at an early age, but growing up in town, I did not have any avenues to pursue this interest. My hope is the new Agriculture Learning Center will provide the opportunities for our students to get firsthand experience and discover a passion for agriculture.”